Thursday, May 8, 2014

Scandal Retrospective

Monica Lewinsky is in the news again with an essay in Vanity Fair.  I don't have a subscription, so I just read the non-subscribed parts of it.  But these excerpts and other quotes are pretty powerful stuff.  She comes off not as a loony but as a pretty serious person who went through some pretty serious attacks. 

Among the more trenchant things Lewinsky says is that Hillary Clinton's response, understandable as it might have been, missed the target.  It was not her fault or that much of Lewinsky's but almost entirely Bill's.  He is the serial philanderer that everyone put up with.  Good on feminist issues, sort of, but bad on treating women well. 

And it reminds me of how frustrated I was by Clinton.  After living through 12 years of Republicans, the Democrats finally won.  With a flawed candidate, we accepted.  But then he pissed much of his presidency away.  Maybe triangulating with Dick Morris made some sense but selling out the folks on welfare?  I was always bothered by that.  And the Lewinsky stuff?  Talk about an unforced error.  So much damage to the Presidency and the country, giving the GOP the fodder they so desperately desired to distract from more important stuff. 

As a professor, I have become more and more offended by men abusing their power in this way.  I found what Clinton did back then to be awful, and more awful still in retrospect.

Where was Hillary in all of this?  Well, I seem to remember that she helped to deny, deny, deny the minor misdeeds of Whitewater and everything else, making smaller problems become bigger ones.  She has done a great job of improving her reputation as a Senator and as a Secretary of State.  Yet I didn't want her to win in 2008 not just because I thought Obama might be a good President (a mixed record) but because I remembered the mistakes she made as First Lady.  She reacted poorly to Travelgate and other stuff that could have been addressed with some transparency. 

Has HRC learned?  Probably.  Would she be a better President in 2017 than 2009?  Maybe. 

I would really like for the US to get beyond the Bushes and the Clintons as there is more talent out there than those two families.  Democracy should be more than just name recognition. 

Anyhow, I have to say I am pretty impressed with Lewinsky.  She made some poor choices and paid a mighty high price for them.  But her perspective, whether smoothed out by publicists or her own genuine take, is actually quite insightful. 

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